Apparently, Christian missionaries haven’t learned a damn thing from John Allen Chau.
It was just months ago when the delusional man invaded the home of the isolated Sentinelese tribe, only to get shot by arrows and killed, leading to a global facepalm over the ignorance of people who risk everything to push their God on strangers.
Now another man has followed in his footsteps in Brazil.
Steve Campbell, a missionary with the Greene Baptist Church in Maine, allegedly invaded the isolated Hi-Merimã tribe in the Amazon. While reports suggest it may have happened by accident, Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department (FUNAI) could seek to charge him with attempted genocide if he intended to contact them.
… The Hi-Merimã is one of a few dozen isolated communities in Brazil that have had almost no contact with the outside world and have limited immunity to outside diseases.
As a result, Campbell is accused of putting the ancient tribe in grave danger by making contact with them after being led to their area by his GPS. He reportedly entered the area by mistake while teaching Indians from the neighboring Jamamadi tribe to use the device.
“If it is established in the investigation that there was an interest in making contact, using his relationship with other [tribespeople] to approach the isolated [Hi-Merimã tribe], he could be charged with the crime of genocide by deliberately exposing the safety and life of the Merimãs,” said [FUNAI’s general coordinator Bruno] Pereira.
It’s also possible nothing happens. If Campbell’s “invasion” is considered an accident, he may avoid consequences. That may also happen if the nation’s new right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, gets involved. He’s already expressed sympathy with evangelicals and had pledged to open up protected land for indigenous people.
So was this just a case of GPS leading a missionary astray? Perhaps. But Chau’s death may have encouraged other missionaries to continue what he began by ignoring the warnings and risking their lives to spread the gospel. Campbell had also been living with the Jamamadi tribe for years, but the Guardian notes that he was doing so without authorization… which suggests a history of ignoring laws to spread his faith.
There are so many details we don’t have yet, but the headline is one we’ve seen before. Unless churches teach their congregations that indigenous tribes deserve to be left alone — both for medical reasons and ethical ones — this will keep happening.